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By Ken Dryden
Originally Posted: August, 2009
To View the Original Review, Click Here.
Diverse was formed while the bandmembers were studying in saxophonist Bobby Watson‘s jazz program at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Four of the students formed a band while in school, wrote originals, sought gigs, and subsequently entered the 2008 Gene Harris Jazz Festival/Origin Records Jazz Competition, which they won, with this record date being the prize. Having done his own post-graduate work in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers(where he later became music director before going out on his own), Watson recognized the uniqueness of Diverse, as they created a variety of original material that defies predictable paths while also leaving a lasting impression.
Check out the lighthearted interplay between trumpeter Hermon Mehari and tenor saxophonist William Sanders in the upbeat “Sojourner,” the intense post-bop cooker “Where It Lives” (adding Watson on alto sax), or the adventurous opener, “Busy Sunday,” which journeys through many different styles like a pedestrian walking through many different ethnic neighborhoods in a metropolis. PianistJohn Brewer, bassist Ben Leifer, and drummer Ryan Lee make up the superb rhythm section. On this strong debut, the musicians in Diverse live up to their band’s name.